Football

Juergen Klopp pleased with Liverpool’s start and Thiago’s debut

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp could barely contain the smile, when asked after his side's 2-0 win at Chelsea yesterday morning (Singapore time) whether it had been a good week for the English Premier League champions.

The answer was pretty obvious. Two wins from their opening two EPL games and, more significantly, they ended the week with a stronger squad than they boasted the previous weekend.

Sadio Mane's double earned Liverpool what turned out to be a routine victory, after Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen was sent off for pulling down Mane just before half-time.

But what will concern Liverpool's title rivals will be the sight of Thiago Alcantara, signed for £20 million (S$35.1m) from Bayern Munich last Friday, coming off the bench at half-time to slot seamlessly into Liverpool's midfield machine.

The Spaniard did concede a penalty-thankfully for him saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson-but looked every bit the class act at Bayern.

Factor in Portuguese forward Diogo Jota, signed from Wolverhampton Wanderers last Saturday but not featured against Chelsea, and no wonder Klopp looked happy.

Mane worked tirelessly, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino linked effortlessly and Fabinho, who partnered Virgil van Dijk in central defence, earned rave reviews in helping to nullify Chelsea's attack.

On Thiago's debut, Klopp said: "He needs to get used to his teammates, but when (Chelsea) went one man down, it became the perfect game for him.

"I liked his game a lot. Defensively it was tricky for him but, offensively with the ball, that's him, he wants to pass the ball."

The only time Klopp looked irritated was when he scolded his bench for celebrating Christensen's sending-off.

Meanwhile, Blues boss Frank Lampard has called for support for goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. He was at fault for the Reds' second goal, directing a clearance straight into the path of Mane, who tapped the ball into an empty net. - REUTERS

Football